President Trump on Wednesday stood with the people of Hong Kong by signing the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act that Chinese officials had hoped Trump would veto.
Trump’s signature comes as Hong Kong continues to be gripped by turmoil amid widespread discontent over Chinese rule in the special administrative region. The president had previously expressed potential concern over the bills impact on the administrations effort to work out a trade deal with China’s President Xi Jinping.
“Look, we have to stand with Hong Kong,” Trump said in an interview on “Fox & Friends” last week. He continued: “But I’m also standing with President Xi. He’s a friend of mine. He’s an incredible guy.”
In the end, Trump made an epic statement by electing to side with the pro-democracy protestors who have been fighting off an overreaching communist Chinese government.
“The act reaffirms and amends the United States-Hong Kong Policy Act of 1992, specifies United States policy towards Hong Kong, and directs assessment of the political developments in Hong Kong,” Trump said in a statement.
He added: “Certain provisions of the Act would interfere with the exercise of the President’s constitutional authority to state the foreign policy of the United States. My administration will treat each of the provisions of the Act consistently with the president’s constitutional authorities with respect to foreign relations.”
The human rights act mandates sanctions on Chinese and Hong Kong officials who carry out human rights abuses and requires an annual review of the favorable trade status that Washington grants Hong Kong.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said earlier this month the act undermines both American and Chinese interests in Hong Kong.
“We urge the U.S. to grasp the situation, stop its wrongdoing before it’s too late, prevent this act from becoming law [and] immediately stop interfering in Hong Kong affairs and China’s internal affairs,” Geng said at a daily news briefing.
“If the U.S. continues to make the wrong moves, China will be taking strong countermeasures for sure,” Geng said.
The Chinese foreign ministry also said in a statement that the bill will “strengthen the resolve of the Chinese people, including the Hong Kong people, and raise the sinister intentions and hegemonic nature of the U.S.”
The statement continued, “The US side ignored facts, turned black to white, and blatantly gave encouragement to violent criminals who smashed and burned, harmed innocent city residents, trampled on the rule of law and endangered social order.”
While the Chinese government was infuriated by the move, even calling it sinister, Hong Kong protestors along with their allies celebrated the small victory.
“I hope it can act as a warning to Hong Kong and Beijing officials, pro-Beijing people and the police,” Nelson Lam, 32, told the Times. “I think if they know that what they do may lead to sanctions, then they will become restrained when dealing with protests. We just want our autonomy back. We are not their foe.”
Sen. Marco Rubio, gave his thoughts after Trump’s signing of the bill. “I applaud President Trump for signing this critical legislation into law. The U.S. now has new and meaningful tools to deter further influence and interference from Beijing into Hong Kong’s internal affairs.”
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jim Risch, said the bill is “an important step forward in holding the Chinese Communist Party accountable for its erosion of Hong Kong’s autonomy and its repression of fundamental human rights.”
Sen. Ben Sasse, warned Chinese President Xi: “Americans despise tyrants and stand in solidarity with Hong Kong. The whole world has seen both the courage of Hong Kongers and the brutality of your Chinese Communist Party. As long as freedom-seekers fill the streets of Hong Kong, the American people will take their side.”